Regular lorry drivers in the south of England will be delighted to hear that the M3 has become an easier and safer place to drive on, thanks to the timely opening of a new fourth lane and the introduction of a raft of smart technology measures. The transformation of a 13.4-mile stretch of carriageway between Farnborough and the M25 into a ‘smart’ motorway looks set to substantially cut journey times by an estimated 15% – something I think we can all be grateful for. With the anticipated easing of congestions, the chance to take on return loads is now a realistic aim, making your hard work much more rewarding.
Plenty of Changes
This traditionally busy artery, first opened in 1971, has long been in need of propelling into the twenty-first century, given its vital role as a connection between London and the South West. As well as the welcome introduction of a fourth lane (which replaces the hard shoulder in both directions and will increase capacity by a third) a complete resurfacing of the road surface and slip roads means you can expect a smoother voyage from start to finish for you, your vehicle and the return loads you’re carrying. Shaun Pidcock, director of Highways England’s smart motorway programme, is confident that the three-year project, which cost £174m, will be a resounding success: “This is a significant upgrade for the M3 and will deliver real benefits for the 130,000 drivers who use it every day. We’ve added 26.8 miles of new lanes to this busy section of the M3 and completely overhauled the technology to give drivers better information to help with their journeys.”
Smart Technology for a Smarter Journey
With its ability to set flexible speed limits in response to real-time conditions on the road and provide a continual stream of up-to-date information about conditions ahead of you, smart technology is definitely going to be your friend in the ongoing battle against long journey times and tedious holdups. 45 CCTV cameras, 113 electronic signs and signals and 55 radar detectors have been installed along the revamped motorway.Working together, these technologies will enable rapid identification of any substantial queues, incidents or breakdowns that threaten the quick delivery of return loads and ensure a speedy solution.
It’s great to see that, with these much-needed changes the road, authorities are firmly on the side of hard-working hauliers. The work hasn’t finished, though: the Woodlands Lane Bridge over the M3 and near Windlesham is also going to be rebuilt completely, a task that will hopefully be finished later in the year. Highways England has stressed, however, that this project will not result in the introduction of any permanent traffic restrictions on the M3.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching loads and return loads with available drivers. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.